McLaren Honda F1 Team Malaysian Grand-Prix preview

McLaren Honda F1 Team Malaysian Grand-Prix preview

26.09.2017: LOWDOWN Race title 2017 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix Circuit name Sepang International Circuit First race 1999 Previous winners

LOWDOWN


Race title 2017 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix
Circuit name Sepang International Circuit
First race 1999
Previous winners
2016 Daniel Ricciardo, 56 laps, 1:37:12.776s
2015 Sebastian Vettel
2014 Lewis Hamilton


History lesson Malaysia has had a long and fruitful association with Formula 1. It began in the late ’90s, when the Sepang International Circuit was constructed on agricultural land near Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and it has been a regular fixture on the F1 calendar since ’99.



The track was the first to be designed and built by architect Hermann Tilke, whose influence extends to 10 circuits on this year’s calendar, and the undulating 5.543km/3.444-mile layout is recognised as one of the most exciting challenges in the world for drivers



 
TRAVEL


City Kuala Lumpur
Time zone BST+7/CET+6
Population 1.65 million


How far? Kuala Lumpur is 10,600km (6,587 miles) from the McLaren Technology Centre


Getting there All of the Formula 1 freight has made the 300-mile (483km) trip from Singapore (scene of the last grand prix) to Kuala Lumpur by road. However, the two-week gap between races has meant that all team personnel have flown back to the UK for a week and will begin travelling to Malaysia at the start of race week. More than 50 international airlines fly into Kuala Lumpur, so there are many flight options from London


Surprising fact Malaysia has an incredibly diverse population. Of the country’s 32 million people, 50 per cent are Malay, 23 per cent are Chinese, seven per cent are Indian and the remaining 20 per cent are comprised of indigenous groups


Local speciality Malaysia is called the street food capital of Asia, and with good reason. Hawker stalls are found everywhere and offer everything from samosas to spicy noodle curry and cendol, which is a desert made from sweet grass jelly and coconut milk



Weather Late September is still the high season, but the chance of rain increases as the monsoon season approaches. Temperatures will be slightly higher than they were in Singapore two weeks ago because the race takes place in the day, so teams should expect an ambient of 30 degrees Celsius and 80 per cent humidity



 
TRACK



Track length 5.543km/3.444 miles (eighth longest track of the year – longest: Spa-Francorchamps, shortest: Monaco)


2016 pole position Lewis Hamilton, 1m32.850s


2016 fastest lap Nico Rosberg, 1m36.424s (lap 44)


Lap record 1:34.223s (Juan Pablo Montoya, 2004)


Tyre choice Red Supersoft, yellow Soft and white Medium compounds – the seventh time this combination has been used in 2017


Distance to Turn One 660m/0.410 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)


Longest straight 920m/0.572 miles, on the approach to Turn 15 (longest of the season: Baku, 2.1km/1.305 miles)


Top speed 330km/h/205mph, on the approach to Turn 15 (fastest of season: Monza, 360km/h/224mph)


Full throttle 65 per cent (highest of the season: Monza, 75 per cent). The longest period of full throttle is 12s, on the approach to Turn 15



Brakewear Medium. Only 15 per cent of the lap is spent braking


Fuel consumption 1.79kg per lap, which is average


ERS demands Medium. There is a high dependency on ERS at every track, but the eight braking zones around the lap make it possible to recover braking energy


Gear changes 57 per lap/3,192 per race

 



RACE


Laps 56 laps



Start time 15:00hrs local/08:00hrs BST/09:00hrs CET


Grid advantage The racing line is on the left and that’s where the grip lies at the start. However, there’s a rainstorm most evenings, so there’s a chance that the grid will be washed clean before the start, negating any grid advantage


DRS There are two DRS zones, on the approaches to Turns One and 15


Don’t put the kettle on…The combination of high track temperatures and fast corners encourages drivers to make more pitstops, not less, at Sepang. Daniel Ricciardo won last year’s race with two stops, while Max Verstappen finished second with three, and strategy was influenced by three Virtual Safety Car periods. Pirelli are taking softer tyre compounds to the race this year, which could lead to even more stops. A conventional three-stopper would result in cars visiting the pits on laps 10, 25 and 40


Pitlane length/Pitstops 420m/0.261 miles (longest of the season: Silverstone, 457m/0.284 miles). It takes 22s to make a stop


Safety Car likelihood 20 per cent. There tends to be lots of incidents and accidents at Sepang, but large run-off areas allow marshals to get stranded cars out the way quickly


Watch out for…Rain. The later start time of 15:00hrs pushes the finish of the race towards early evening, which is when the rain showers tend to hit



THE MANAGEMENT


ERIC BOULLIER    McLAREN HONDA RACING DIRECTOR


 
“There’s no denying Sepang will be tough for us – both for our package and for our drivers – as we often see the hottest temperatures and highest humidity levels of the year. Our two drivers are among the fittest on the grid, so I’ve no doubt they’ll approach the weekend fully prepared as usual.




 The conditions present a pretty unique technical challenge for our engineers too, as we try to find the best compromise in terms of performance and cooling over the whole weekend.



“As for performance, we will of course be pushing for Q3 on Saturday – as we have done over the past couple of races – but this circuit is unlikely to be as kind to us as Singapore in terms of outright lap-times. As ever, reliability will be key in these tough conditions, as points are only ever possible with a reliable car, as will avoiding any first-lap chaos, which is always easier said than done.



“Nevertheless, our drivers report that the MCL32 has good balance as well as strong traction on slower-speed corners wherever we race in the world, both of which factors will be a benefit on a track of this nature. We’ll aim to bid a fond farewell to Sepang International Circuit after 19 great years, and I hope we can put in a fitting performance in front of our Malaysian fans.”




 
YUSUKE HASEGAWA
HONDA R&D CO. LTD HEAD OF F1 PROJECT & EXECUTIVE CHIEF ENGINEER


 
“We’re heading back to Asia for the Malaysian Grand Prix, and we expect it to be another challenging race with extremely hot and humid weather conditions.


“Last time out in Singapore we had mixed fortunes. Fernando was involved in an unfortunate incident and ultimately retired, while Stoffel’s pace was competitive and he drove incredibly well, eventually crossing the line in P7. Overall it was positive that we were competitive throughout the weekend and came away with some precious points.



“Regarding Fernando’s Singapore power unit, we were concerned that it may have been irreparably damaged, but fortunately after a thorough check back at the Sakura factory we can confirm it is okay to be re-used.



“The layout of Sepang International Circuit is a mixture of long straights and sweeping corners, which will no doubt make for an exciting race. Despite it being a power-hungry track, the changeable conditions mean anything can happen, so hopefully if we prepare well we can capitalise on any opportunities that come our way and break into the points.



After 19 fantastic years, this year’s grand prix will be the last in Malaysia, so we’d like to thanks the fans and treat them to an exciting race weekend.”

 
 





Silvia Hoffer Frangipane - photos McLaren

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26.09.2017 / MaP

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